Figuring Out The Right Focus For Your Mystery Shopping Program
Like other research programs, the success of a mystery shopping initiative hinges on your brand’s ability to specifically target the information you hope to uncover. Without a specifically prescribed target outcome, it will be challenging to determine whether or not the program performed up to expectations. Finding a vendor that is able to work with you to determine what a program should look like for your unique brand identity can be extremely valuable to the overall Customer Experience you provide. Mystery shopping can yield influential and actionable data when designed correctly, but programs that lack a specific focus will wind up faltering compared to those with with the right objective.
One of the most common focuses of a successful mystery shopping program is employee performance. For large-scale, national or regional brands, it is important that leadership has actionable information about the way that employees are interacting with customers within individual locations. Typically, these programs will focus on either the point-of-sale or a request-for-service. Fast-casual restaurant and retail brands often use programs of this nature because customer service is one of the primary factors influencing purchasing decisions in those industries.
Another brand aspect that is commonly measured is the overall aesthetic of your physical brick-and-mortar location or organizational website. Understanding your how you make a first impression is vital to establishing long-term relationships with consumers, and this interaction begins as soon as a customer walks into your store or logs onto your website. Create a specific set of stylistic guidelines that should be applied across all your different branches, that remains consistent with your website design. These programs are especially essential for eCommerce stores as well as both full-service and fast-casual restaurants, due to the vast number of options available to consumers in those industries. Focusing evaluators on measuring aesthetic factors, like cleanliness or employee uniform adherence, is important because one location failing to live up to organizational standards can lead to a slew of customers completely unwilling to return to your brand.
Beyond measuring the employee performance and aesthetic of each branch in your organization, mystery shopping programs can measure the effectiveness of a new product roll-out. For brands in the restaurant or retail space, new menu items and products can serve as an experiential event for both returning and new customers. However, these experimental initiatives are often fraught with common problems, and a mystery shopping program specifically designed to measure how these novel items are being digested can be extremely valuable to determine whether or not they should continue, and how to roll-out the next new thing.
The final common version of mystery shopping programs, which is most commonly applied to healthcare and c-store brands, is compliance audits. If your organization deals in an industry with intense oversight, having a distinct compliance program in addition to any service or perception-based research will mitigate the inherent risk involved. For example, brands that stock alcohol and tobacco products can differentiate themselves by providing great service, but if they fail to comply to industry or legal standards, then it is all for naught. Additionally, healthcare or insurance providers must follow a specific set of legal standards within every customer interaction, making it essential that you are measuring employee performance to meet these requirements in tandem with evaluating their perceived level of service. Segmenting this research will ensure that organizations of this nature are excelling in the hearts and minds of their customers, and the regulating bodies of their industries.
Ultimately, mystery shopping programs can yield extremely valuable information that leadership can use to make actionable changes at an individual branch level. Measuring, understanding and improving your existing Customer Experience can serve as a differentiator in any industry, but customer desires will shift depending on the space you encompass. Ensure that your brand is focusing its mystery shopping initiative on the right organizational aspects to yield the correct data which will have a positive impact on your brand perception.
Second To None empowers customer-centric brands to deliver consistent, intentional and authentic consumer experiences.
We adeptly design and manage mystery shopping, compliance, engagement and voice of customer solutions grounded in strategic relevance, program integrity and actionable insights. Our solutions are developed on the basis of solid research and statistical science. We achieve success through a relentless focus on quality and innovation, consultative relationships and a talented team of professional associates.